Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Kindle tailored for Newspapers and Magazines?

Can't wait for summer, hence the references to surf and sand. It pains me to constantly hear of newspapers and magazines shutting down. It seems to me that they are too busy trying to recoup sunk costs (or milk them further) until the entire business gets buried under the surf, rather than ride it. It seems to me that they are unwilling to let go of their comfort zones and try something new.

Marc Andreesen in his interview on the Charlie Rose show called for dramatic changes in the way traditional print media distributes content. What is the print media industry doing to leverage the value of its various time-tested brands? Here are a few uninformed pointers and unanswered questions that might help the media industry think out of the sand.

  1. Mindle - A Kindle for Traditional Media, News Papers and Magazines? Are advocacy groups in the media and publishing industry pooling resources to create their own version of the Kindle2 -- then give it away for free? We have read the much cited blog post on how 'Printing The NYT Costs Twice As Much As Sending Every Subscriber A Free Kindle'. Can this device, let's call it Mindle for convenience, be shared by all the media companies?

  2. Scrollbar? Just the scroll please, not the bar. Would it help to have a standardized format for e-paper sizes? Have you tried any of the electronic versions of newspapers and magazines that are expecting the print versions to be miniaturized and sent via email, and for readers to enjoy the content using a variety of techniques not excluding, scrolling, enlarging, panning, and squinting. Extremely cumbersome to use. I would imagine that the same will happen if you try to squeeze all the content of a magazine or a newspaper into the Kindle2.

  3. Print-On-Demand Newspapers and Magazines. Would it make sense for the traditional media to encourage the growth of localized network of printers who might be willing to print magazines and newspapers on demand to spawn local entrepreneurship in places where they like to sit with the morning paper and sip coffee?

  4. No Accessories. In my electronic version of newspaper and magazine, I do not want to have to plug things in. I do not want to walk around with a mouse. I do not want to worry about accessories. I do not want to panic if I left it behind in a taxi. How can the industry satisfy such demands of a consumer?

  5. News on my Coffee Table.

  1. Why not tie up with Microsoft and create furniture in the industry's standard dimension for electronic news surfaces, so that news is delivered on the coffee table, or on the mirror by the dresser for your reader to check the weather and traffic report as s/he gets ready for the morning commute?

Obviously, a lot more thinking needs to go into this. A good start would be for the readers to exhort to leaders in the media world that there is still value in knowing that news and reporting coming from various brands of media companies bear that essential journalistic integrity and authenticity that play an important role in society. If the traditional media business fails to respond, we will see a variety of independent news sources throughout the web or under the umbrella of Amazon or Google, with the need for some 3rd-party mechanism to certify sources for their journalistic integrity. Hard to execute, but should that not happen then the market will find ways to drown out ad-influenced noise over time.